Energy & Environment

Biden unveils $5 trillion climate plan

Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden released his climate policy proposal early Tuesday, targeting net-zero emissions and a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050.

The “Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution & Environmental Justice” embraces the Green New Deal while setting a longer timeline of achieving net-zero emissions and a 100 percent clean energy economy. 

{mosads}Calling for a “clean energy revolution,” the former vice president lays out a path to invest $5 trillion over 10 years to achieve the renewable energy goals. Nearly $1.7 trillion of that would be federal dollars, which Biden’s campaign says will be paid by undoing the tax cuts enacted by President Trump and congressional Republicans. 

Investments from state and local governments as well as private companies would push the total to $5 trillion.

“Science tells us that how we act or fail to act in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet,” Biden said in a statement. “That’s why I’m calling for a Clean Energy Revolution to confront this crisis and do what America does best — solve big problems with big ideas.”

As president, Biden would also reenter the Paris climate accord and “lead an effort to get every major country to ramp up the ambition of their domestic climate target,” according to his campaign.  The plan leaves the question of an enforcement mechanism to Congress.

He also promised to refuse campaign donations from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives. A Biden campaign spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that as part of that policy, Biden would be committing to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge organized by the youth climate group Sunrise Movement. He joins 16 other major Democratic candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who have signed the pledge.

As part of the international portion of Biden’s plan, his administration would place “carbon adjustment fees” on carbon-intensive goods from countries that fail “to meet their climate and environmental obligations.”

The plan also targets China’s coal exports, promising to build a bilateral framework that incentivizes Beijing to stop selling the polluting products.

Biden’s plan does not call for a carbon fee on the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. and does not expressly champion renewable energy. Funding would be poured into strengthening existing infrastructure and funding research to enhance climate resiliency.

The language in Biden’s policy take strides to embrace the progressive climate action plan known as the Green New Deal, backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), but stops short of the ambitious timeline laid out in the plan. While the Green New Deal calls for a transition to a 100 percent renewable powered U.S. electric grid by 2030, Biden’s plan calls for net zero emissions by 2050.

The release of Biden’s plan comes weeks after he pushed back on pressure from progressives who said the former Delaware senator would not go far enough to address climate change.

Those progressives, including Ocasio-Cortez, cited a Reuters report that quoted a Biden adviser who touted the need to find a “middle ground” approach as progressives push the Green New Deal.

Biden’s campaign is labeling his plan “bold,” saying it aims to do more than the presidency of his former boss, Barack Obama.

“On day one, Biden will sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform and put us on the right track,” his plan reads.

Biden, who is courting middle- and working-class voters, also notes that his plan will not take away blue collar jobs. One of the five main points of the plan pledges to “fulfill our obligation to workers and communities who powered our industrial revolution.”

“We’re not going to leave any workers or communities behind,” it reads.

Although the commitments in the plan released early Tuesday are not as aggressive as the goals laid out in the Green New Deal, Biden’s campaign did praise the progressive policy as a “crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges.”

Biden’s climate platform is similar in size and scope to former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas), who also called for a $5 trillion investment, but falls short of the only other fully fleshed-out climate change platform in the 2020 presidential race, from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D).

Biden has consistently polled as the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Updated at 9:25 a.m. 

Tags 2020 Democratic candidates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Barack Obama Beto O'Rourke Climate change Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Jay Inslee Joe Biden

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